Clara Quintana plays with images, lights and objects to create spaces, ambiences, and stories that move us. She works as Art Director with some of our favourite brands and designers, and she is also behind the lighting concept of our creative studio in Barcelona.
We meet her in her home, where we speak with her about light and objects, about well-living and well-being.
Hi Clara. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I grew up and live in Barcelona, although I spent a couple of years in London studying for a Master’s. Now we’re a family of four and whenever we can, we head out of the city to get a balance between our professional projects and quality time with family and friends. Enjoying the sea at the Cap de Creus or the countryside and orchards in a remote part of Bages county, travelling and discovering places that I don’t know, all of this is what gives me the energy and inspiration for my daily work at the studio.
What motivated you to launch your own studio? What kind of projects do you most like working on?
For years I dreamed of creating my studio. After a long time working in agencies and companies, learning a lot from the people leading those assignments, I wanted to focus on projects where I had the opportunity to apply my own values and ways of working, create a team, and come up with ideas and stories that represent us, that communicate and have something to offer. It’s almost like having a child! You have to look after it and nurture it, and it entails intense dedication, but what it gives back to you is invaluable.
In the end, the most gratifying aspect is researching, documenting and designing to create beauty and value for the brands that we work with. We are able to offer a distinct, simple idea, one that isn’t determined by trends and has a new but enduring visual, to create a rich and different universe based on objects and images.
You worked for many years as Art Director for Santa & Cole, one of our favourite lighting and furniture brands. What would you say is the most invaluable lesson you came away with from that experience?
As well as discovering the role of design editor, whose work consists of selecting useful and beautiful objects full of meaning, I learned to think about and discover images, stories, objects and spaces that can help illustrate how to design a transformative and engaging campaign. I also learned how to bring together the right professionals from different disciplines who can contribute to the idea, and improve the outcome through the sum of their talent.
What particularly fascinates you about lighting and lamps?
It’s an infinite and malleable landscape. I’m fascinated by everything that can be generated by both natural and artificial light. Together they create shadows, colours, textures and shapes that help us tell stories, such as when we illuminate an object or a space well.
After many years working with photographers, I realised that, in the end, the most complex task is photographing light. It can be really thankless at the beginning, it’s not always easy to achieve what you have in mind or what we can see with our eyes, but once you have it, the result is very satisfying.
What are the essential aspects to consider when creating a balanced and harmonious space?
For me, the essential features of a space are the light and the materials. The balance between what we touch and what we see, and how we see it, is what makes us feel comfortable or uncomfortable in a place.
It’s not necessary to fill it with light or objects, but rather to have what is essential to feel protected, at ease and connected with the space.
Could you tell us about your process when creating the lighting concept for ROWSE?
We worked in alignment with Nuria Val’s project, seeking out the natural and the Mediterranean aspect, and promoting crafts and local products. We wanted the ‘objects’ to be in tune with the values of ROWSE, and to define their functionality in each zone of the showroom. What’s more, as it’s a space with a lot of natural light, the lamps should work as sculptures or objects that, through their expression and design, contribute to the ROWSE universe and also to the space created by Isern Serra. For example, in the beauty space, my fundamental objective was that everybody should see themselves as attractive in the mirror when they tried the products, and that their real skin tones were reflected.
Light can affect our mood and the way we feel in a space. How can light help us to well-living and well-being?
After having to spend some time in hospital, I realised the need to look into how part of our nourishment comes from light. We know that it affects us physiologically and psychologically, it provides us with vital energy, and its qualities for our health are endlessly varied. We want to explore the balance between people and light, objects and spaces, taking into account the well-being and sustainability, and we are researching this through our project Proyecto Luz, Llum, Luce, Light, Licht, Lumière, 軽い.
Is there a particular product from ROWSE that you love?
The Summer Body Oil, because of its fragrance and the colour it gives skin in the summer. It makes you feel good and, at the same time, it’s caring for you. To have the time to look after yourself with natural products is a luxury.
Tell us about some of the artists, architects and designers whose work has influenced your sense of style.
I love discovering lesser-known artists during the creative process of each project. For example, in our most recent work, we were very inspired by the stylist and image creator, Riccardo Maria Chiacchio. There are also big names such as Ingo Maurer, Jørn Utzon, Tadao Ando, Joan Miró, Peter Zumthor, Tibor Kalman, Brancusi, Coderch, Dieter Rams, Maison Margiela, Isamu Noguchi, Nathalie du Pasquier; and galleries such as Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul du Vence or the Planta Project in Lérida.
And to finish, what’s your idea of timeless beauty?
It’s a beauty that isn’t typical or common, but is close to the world in which we live now. It’s a natural beauty because it has a special charm and charisma, it accepts diversity and swims against the tide of current trends. It’s exactly what it seems to be - what you see, that’s it. It’s beautiful now and will keep being so as the years pass. And it probably has a personality that transmits something different while generating admiration in us.
Photography by Coke Bartrina